6 days in to my cycling trip from Porto Alegre to Salvador da Bahia, I thought I would make a little status, as I have today left the state of Rio Grande do Sul and cycled in to Santa Catarina. These are my 5 cents about cycling around the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil.
I started in Porto Alegre.
I flew in from Lisbon to Porto Alegre, which is the southern most big city in Brazil and home to more than 2 million people. What I first noticed was that Porto Alegre can be very cold in june and I was freezing my balls of the first few days. I found a good place to buy a bicycle though and a wonderful football bar to watch football and drink excellent brazilian craft beer. More about that bar here: http://brechodofutebol.com/
Leaving Porto Alegre by bicycle.
My initial plan was to take the 290 road that goes directly from Porto Alegre to the Atlantic coast, but there were big signs saying “no bicycles and horse carts” at the entrance to that road, so I decided to take another road. I could probably have gotten away with taking that road, but I prefer to stay out of trouble when I am cycling around, so I started to look for an alternative.
Cycling to Novo Hamburgo.
I decided to cycle up to the town Novo Hamburgo and then head east from there on a smaller road. The road up to Novo Hamburgo was heavily trafficked in the beginning, which is no surprise, as Porto Alegre is a very industrial city with lot’s of production and therefor lot’s of trucks going in and out of the city, but the road had an ok shoulder, so I felt quite safe cycling out of the city. Novo Hamburgo was settled by german immigrants in the 1820’s and therefor has this very german sounding name. These days it’s mainly known for it’s huge shoe production and it’s a fairly pleasant city to stay for a night.
Driving with shitty tires never pays off.
When I bough my mountain bike in Porto Alegre, I did not bother to check what tires were on it. When you buy a new bike, they almost always come with some standard tires that are fine if you are just driving up and down the road in you local neighborhood, but these are absolutely no good for touring. I had not checked them though and that resulted in my front tire blowing up just outside Novo Hamburgo, so I had to carry my bike 5 kilometers to the closest bike repair shop, as my bike pump also broke when I tried to replace the tire. Two days later I had to change the back tire, after a triple puncture in one day. Bottom line is that you should always invest in proper tires for a long bicycle journey. A cheap bike can easily do a long journey, as long as it has proper tires, but remember to have the proper tires, unless you love repairing flat tires.
Rio Grande do Sul is cold in june.
One thing that might surprise some people, is that the south of Brazil can be quite cold in winter months, which are june/july/august. When driving through Rio Grande do Sul I actually paid extra in my hotel two times to have heating because I was so cold at night. Once I was out on the road during day time, I was absolutely fine, but when the sun started top set things got cold.